The “Impeach Bush” Playing Card Deck + Elizabeth Kucinich on Impeachment (video)

Dandelion Salad

Global Research, October 22, 2007

afterdowningstreet.org/

“Impeach Bush” Playing Card decks sent to every member of Congress

Citing 54 reasons to impeach the President, creator says “Mission Accomplished”

Chicago, IL (DU) October 16, 2007

With a 75% disapproval rating and millions of Americans demanding for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, it was only a matter of time until someone took the Pentagon’s “Most Wanted” card concept and turned it on the administration itself. Released last month, the “Royal Flush: Impeach Bush Now” playing card deck lists 54 reasons to impeach the president and remove him from office for high crimes and misdemeanors against the Constitution and the United States.

Created by filmmaker and political satirist Jerry Vasilatos, the concept behind his “Royal Flush: Impeach Bush Now” playing card deck is simple. Using the example set forth by the Pentagon in their “Iraqi Deck of Death”, which was distributed to troops at the beginning of the war and meant to assist them in identifying Iraqi war criminals, Vasilatos has chosen 54 of the most egregious misdeeds of the Bush administration and assigned each one to a card. Ranging from the mishandling of Hurricane Katrina, to issues of civil liberty abuse, torture and the War in Iraq, Vasilatos can’t imagine anyone looking at the decks and wondering why impeachment proceedings HAVEN’T yet begun.

“This is probably the last gasp of my political playing card series, if these were movies they’d be a trilogy” he says with irony. “After seeing how successfully I could try to spread awareness with my previous card decks identifying hypocritical pro-war figures with the “Deck of Republican Chickenhawks” and reasons not to re-elect Bush prior to the ’04 election with the “House of Cards: Deck of Bush”, it made sense that I had to see things through compiling a list of everything the President has done to betray our country’s ideals and present them in the playing card format to make sure there’s a record from which to demand accountability.”

To drive the point home, Vasilatos undertook the expense of sending a deck of cards to every member of congress with the following message:

“Dear Congressman:

When our service men and women were sent to Iraq (on a lie), the Pentagon issued playing card decks to the troops identifying Iraq’s “Most Wanted”, because as the Pentagon explained “the best way to out the enemy, was to depict them on a deck of cards.”

America is facing another enemy, this time from within, and the enclosed playing card deck not only identifies that enemy, but lists the top 54 reasons to impeach President George W. Bush for high crimes and misdemeanors against this country, it’s citizens, and our Constitution.

When you took the oath of office as a member of Congress, you swore and affirmed to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign AND domestic.

What’s taking you so long defending it against the lies and crimes of the Bush and Cheney administration?

It’s not enough to say that “history will judge this administration”. When history does judge it for it’s crimes, it will judge you and your colleagues as well for failing in your duty to protect this country from the crimes of this administration as you swore you would when you took your oath of office.

The excuse that impeachment will take too long and waste precious time is a farce. It took 6 months to impeach President Nixon for obstruction of justice regarding a burglary. It took 4 months to impeach President Clinton over a personal matter that Congress had no business in aside from an attempt at political character assassination. Neither president’s crimes came remotely close to the crimes and deceptions of the Bush Administration that have cost thousands of lives, sacrificed our country’s standing and reputation in the international community and exercised a complete disregard for human rights and the dignity of American troops and Iraqi civilians. For any of you to shrug your responsibility in filing articles of impeachment so that history has a record that an effort was made to halt this assault on our country and our civil liberties is tantamount to treason.

President Theodore Roosevelt said: “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else”

Do your duty as true patriots. Acquaint yourself with every documented fact in this card deck. Then put impeachment BACK ON THE TABLE and remove this thug masquerading as our commander-in-chief before the damage he and his administration have caused cannot be undone. It is not only your responsibility but your DUTY. Your legacy, as well as this country’s, depends on it.”

“It’s the least I could do in trying to send the message home since the majority of Americans feel like our cries are falling on deaf ears” Vasilatos says. “Hopefully this might aid in getting their attention since we gave them a mandate for a reason.”

http://www.impeachbushcards.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright , afterdowningstreet.org/, 2007
The url address of this article is:
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***

Elizabeth Kucinich with northeast impeachment coalition

power2change

Speaking at the New Hampshire Democratic debate in Hanover NH. with representatives from NEIC.org. About the need to streamline house res 333 and choose 2-3 unrefutable impeachable items for a revised bill.

h/t: After Downing Street

see

Kucinich tops other Dem Presidential leaders in key CA straw poll + video

Kucinich: Bush Close to Igniting WWIII by Monisha Bansal

Kucinich Campaign update 10-22-07 (video)

Kucinich tops other Dem Presidential leaders in key CA straw poll + video

Dandelion Salad

Submitted by davidswanson on Mon, 2007-10-22
After Downing Street
www.dennis4president.com

SAN MATEO, CA – Despite millions of campaign dollars being spent by the poll-leading Democratic Presidential candidates to woo California voters, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich scored a stunning second-place finish in a bell-weather Presidential straw poll here today.

In a caucus-like setting open to all Democratic voters in the state, Kucinich came in significantly ahead of top-spenders Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and only slightly behind former U.S. Senator John Edwards.

Official results released by the San Mateo County Democratic Party this evening showed that Edwards received 29% of the total votes cast, Kucinich received just under 24%, and Obama and Clinton came in third and fourth, with 22.5% and 16.8% respectively. The other Democratic candidates were all in the low single digits.

“This is clear and compelling evidence of the strong and rising undercurrent of grassroots support for our campaign, not just in California, but all across the country,” Kucinich said. “When independent-minded Democratic voters and activists have the chance to vote their beliefs and their consciences, celebrity and campaign war chests don’t matter.”

While an analysis of the San Mateo straw poll results was not immediately available, attendees reported their support for Kucinich was based on his adamant and longstanding opposition to the war in Iraq, his proposal for a universal, national not-for-profit health care system that would cover all Americans, his opposition to the so-called U.S.A. Patriot Act, his call for a repeal of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and his Articles of Impeachment against Vice President Richard B. Cheney.

# # #

Media contacts:

Washington, D.C.: Sharon Manitta, (202) 506-6683, Sharon.manitta@kucinich.us
National HQ: Andy Juniewicz, (216) 409-8992, ajuniewicz@aol.com

Website: www.dennis4president.com

Dennis Kucinich for President – Contribute


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Dennis Kucinich at San Mateo Straw Poll

johnklin

Dennis Kucinich at San Mateo Presidential Straw Poll. San Mateo, CA. Sunday, October 21, 2007.

see

Kucinich: Bush Close to Igniting WWIII by Monisha Bansal

Kucinich Campaign update 10-22-07 (video)

The “Impeach Bush” Playing Card Deck + Elizabeth Kucinich on Impeachment (video)

Kucinich: Bush Close to Igniting WWIII by Monisha Bansal

Dandelion Salad

by Monisha Bansal
Global Research, October 22, 2007
CNSNews.com

Democratic presidential hopeful Rep. Dennis Kucinich criticized President George W. Bush, claiming that he is trying to start World War III.

Kucinich took issue with comments Bush made on Wednesday. For instance, the president said: “I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously. I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have (sic) the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”

But in a statement released Thursday, the congressman from Ohio said that by raising the specter of a possible World War III predicated on Iran’s nuclear energy ambitions, “the White House rodeo cowboy has gone dangerously too far and precipitously too close to igniting the war he claims to be trying to avoid.”

“You can worry about the apocalypse, or, you can ensure it by manipulating intelligence and, with pre-meditation, put your finger on the trigger that will make Iran the next deadly domino in the President’s irresponsible and irrational approach to the complex and sensitive political issues that make the region a more volatile tinder box than ever before,” Kucinich said.

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino responded to questions about the president’s remarks during her daily briefing by saying the president was focusing on the consequences of Iran having a nuclear weapon.

“This is a country that has a leader who says that his goal is to wipe Israel off the face of the earth,” she said.

“It is a country that is sending its foreign fighters into Iraq that are targeting our troops, killing our troops and killing innocent Iraqis. They are a state sponsor of terrorism – especially Hizballah – and the world community through the United Nations Security Council has said that Iran should not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon,” Perino added.

Kucinich, a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq, noted that it’s not the first time Bush has “invoked the potential of another world war to bolster support for his monumentally failed foreign policy.

“If the President continues policies that fuel the extremists in Iraq because of our continued occupation, and if he continues rallying support in Congress for possible aggression against Iran, he is purposely fulfilling his own prophesy and sentencing this nation and its brave sons and daughters to a war that never ends and a newer, bigger war that will be even more horrific,” he said.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq, Kucinich said, “provide overwhelming evidence that the President and his cohorts in the administration and in the Congress deceived the American people, lied to them, and violated their Constitutional oaths of office.”

“Using that wholly fraudulent proposition to springboard to an attack on Iran is not only constitutionally impeachable, it is patently criminal under the laws of this nation,” he added.

But Perino said, “We are going to continue to work this issue diplomatically, we believe it can be resolved diplomatically, we’re tightening the financial sanctions on the country, and that is having an impact.”

“What the President was making was a point that Iran with a nuclear weapon would have very negative consequences for the region,” she clarified.

Global Research Articles by Monisha Bansal
www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Monisha Bansal, CNSNews.com , 2007
The url address of this article is:
www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7153

see

Kucinich tops other Dem Presidential leaders in key CA straw poll + video

The “Impeach Bush” Playing Card Deck + Elizabeth Kucinich on Impeachment (video)

Kucinich Campaign update 10-22-07 (video)

Did two hired assassins snatch weapons inspector David Kelly? by Norman Baker

Dandelion Salad

by Norman Baker
Global Research, October 22, 2007
Daily Mail

Weapons inspector David Kelly was the decent man apparently hounded to suicide after exposing Tony Blair’s lies on Iraq.

But the crusading MP Norman Baker felt sure there was something more to his death – and gave up his front-bench role to investigate the case.

In the Mail he revealed extraordinary evidence that he believes proves Kelly did not take his own life and was instead murdered by Iraqi dissidents. Here, he reveals how the murder may have been carried out…

While investigating the death of Dr David Kelly I have made many strange discoveries, not least some disturbing parallels with the case of a young American journalist named Danny Casolaro.

Mr Casolaro made himself deeply unpopular with elements in the murky world of U.S. defence by probing too deeply into their activities.

One morning in August 1991, he was found dead in a hotel room near Harpers Ferry in Virginia. He was in the bath, naked, with his wrist slashed.

There were no signs of bruising or other marks on the body and the police concluded that he had committed suicide.

But this was totally false according to Dr Christopher Green, who was the CIA’s chief forensic pathologist for decades.

Dr Green participated in Casolaro’s autopsy and last year he told veteran White House reporter Sterling Seagrave that the young journalist had been killed before being stripped, put in a full bath, and his left wrist cut in precisely the same manner as Dr Kelly’s.

And as with Dr Kelly, there was remarkably little blood, bar a small amount smeared on the edge of the tub, suggesting that the wrist wound had been inflicted after the heart had stopped pumping.

This compelling demonstration of how effectively a murder can be disguised as suicide drove me on in my search for the truth about Dr Kelly, who was found dead in an Oxfordshire wood on July 18, 2003, having apparently taken his own life.

Before Danny Casolaro died, the journalist had been investigating the activities of America’s private security companies which, according to Sterling Seagrave, are linked to the ‘Grey Ghosts’ – an army of professional killers commissioned by the Pentagon to carry out assassinations.

The similarities between the two men’s deaths led Seagrave to suggest that Dr Kelly might also have fallen victim to these shadowy figures.

After all, he was the source behind a BBC report that the British government had ‘sexed up’ intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. This can hardly have been well received by the White House.

As I explained in Saturday’s Mail, my own information strongly suggests that those behind Dr Kelly’s death were Iraqi dissidents opposed to Saddam Hussein’s regime and angry at Dr Kelly for undermining the case for toppling him.

A well-placed source also told me that the British police or security services had been warned of a likely assassination attempt but were not in time to stop it.

Did they then try to disguise the murder as suicide for reasons of political expediency?

To understand what may have happened, we must return to Thursday, July 17, the day

Dr Kelly disappeared. That morning he was at home with his wife Janice in the village of Southmoor and it must be said that none of his behaviour fits the profile of a man about to commit suicide.

In her evidence to the Hutton inquiry into Dr Kelly’s death, his wife said he was ‘tired, subdued, but not depressed’. Indeed, it seems it was Janice Kelly, not her husband, who was more seriously under par.

During phone calls that morning, Dr Kelly told a colleague that he was basically ‘holding up all right’, but that his wife was having a difficult time, both physically and mentally, under the pressure of long-standing ill health and the political storm that had engulfed them.

At lunchtime she went to bed with a nauseous headache and arthritis pains. He, on the other hand, appears to have carried on working normally, eaten some lunch and taken the trouble to go upstairs to check on his wife, shortly before 2pm, to see how she was feeling.

Given his obvious concern, it hardly seems likely that he would want to exacerbate matters for her by committing suicide that day.

Dr Kelly told his wife he would be going out for one of the regular walks he took to help his bad back. These were normally short affairs lasting no more than 25 minutes.

Mrs Kelly estimates that her husband left the house shortly after 3pm. With him, we are led to believe, he had the knife later found by his corpse and three packets of the painkillers his wife took for arthritis. These would later be discovered in his jacket pocket – empty but for one of the 30 tablets.

According to the Hutton inquiry, Dr Kelly set out on that walk intent on killing himself.

But, if so, why does he appear to have waited so long before doing it?

Since the pathologist inexplicably failed to take Dr Kelly’s body temperature when he first arrived on the scene the following day – a standard procedure which would have helped give an accurate time of death – we have to make our own deductions about when he died.

The pathologist offered a wide window of between 4.15pm on Thursday and 1.15am on Friday. But there is every reason to think this window is far too wide.

The Hutton inquiry heard that after Dr Kelly’s body was found on Friday morning, two paramedics moved his arm away from his chest at about 10am so that they could attach electrodes and confirm that he was dead.

Clearly, rigor mortis – the stiffening of the body – had not yet fully set in. Since it is generally accepted that it reaches its peak after 12 hours, we can assume that Dr Kelly most likely died at some time after 10pm on the Thursday night, and quite possibly much later.

What then happened to him in the missing hours – at least seven of them – between leaving home and supposedly killing himself?

The last person known to have seen Dr Kelly alive was his neighbour, Ruth Absalom, who met him about three-quarters-of-a-mile from his home.

They passed the time of day briefly before going their separate ways. Dr Kelly’s parting words were: “See you again then, Ruth.”

According to Ms Absalom, he was heading towards the nearby village of Kingston Bagpuize.

That would be consistent with a circular half-hour walk back to his house – but in quite the wrong direction to reach Harrowrecords-down Hill, the lonely area of woodland where his body was discovered.

One of the few clues to what happened next is that Dr Kelly’s phone was switched off when a colleague from the Ministry of Defence tried to call him between 5pm and 6pm.

This was odd. Dr Kelly himself would tell friends that his mobile was always on and, given that he had been in regular contact with the MoD that morning, and that the furore surrounding him was developing from hour to hour, it seems unlikely that he would have turned it off or let the battery run down.

If he did indeed intend to commit suicide, turning off his phone could be seen as a preliminary step. But for reasons I have made clear, I do not believe suicide is a credible explanation for his death.

This leaves us with an alternative possibility. Did someone else turn Dr Kelly’s phone off so that his movements could not be traced via signal kept by the phone company? In other words, was he forcibly abducted?

If he headed in the direction Ms Absalom described, his walk would probably have taken him along Appleton Road, a quiet and rather empty stretch with only sporadic development alongside.

From there he is likely to have turned right into Draycott Road, which is even more deserted. A no-through road with some derelict buildings part-way down, it peters out into a footpath at the end.

On either of these roads it would certainly have been relatively easy for determined abductors to have forced the 59-year-old weapons inspector into a van without anyone seeing.

According to the information I have been given, the murder itself was carried out by a couple of not very well-paid hired hands.

As to the method used, I am told that they gave Dr Kelly an injection in his backside, which perhaps points to the use of succinylcholine, a white crystalline substance that acts as a muscle relaxant.

For less beneficent purposes, it can be used to induce paralysis and cardiac arrest and frequently goes undetected in post-mortems.

I asked Thames Valley Police whether the body had been checked for the presence of this or a similar substance. They told me that they did not know.

If this was not the substance used then, alarmingly, there appear to be a large number of other ways in which Dr Kelly might have been killed that would be difficult or even impossible to trace.

For this we can no doubt partly thank the work of Project Coast – a highly unpleasant chemical and biological warfare programme run by the South African government from 1981 onwards to develop exactly such capabilities.

With aims including the creation of a biological weapon designed to attack the black population while leaving whites unscathed, its prime mover was Dr Wouter Basson, variously described as ‘the South African Mengele’ and ‘Dr Death’.

Ironically, in the week before Dr Kelly died, it is alleged he was due to be interviewed by MI5 about his links with Dr Basson, who in 1985 had visited the Porton Down research centre, where Dr Kelly was then head of the Chemical Defence Establishment.

This visit had happened at a time when Mrs Thatcher’s government claimed that the South Africans were developing biological and chemical weapons solely for defensive purposes.

Only later was it revealed that they were working on chemicals such as parathion, an organophosphate that can be introduced into the body through hair follicles, perhaps under the arm or around the crutch.

This causes vomiting – evidence of which could be seen on Dr Kelly’s body – and leads to a respiratory attack. It is extremely difficult to detect traces of such a chemical in the body, unless you know what you are looking for.

When I tracked down Wouter Basson at his home in the Western Cape earlier this year, I asked him if he thought Dr Kelly had been murdered.

He paused, as if choosing his words carefully, then replied that Dr Kelly ‘didn’t seem the sort to commit suicide’.

He was also in no doubt that the UK, and indeed other Western countries, have a capacity for assassination.

Other possible methods of killing Dr Kelly included the use of saxotoxin, found in some shellfish and known as the CIA Shellfish Toxin, after its alleged use by that agency to kill one of their targets. Even a tiny amount is effective seconds after injection and is completely untraceable after autopsy.

One private detective even suggested to me that Dr Kelly’s killers might have made gruesome misuse of the equipment employed by undertakers in embalming, placing a tube into an artery and forcibly pumping the blood out of the body.

This would cause unconsciousness and then death, and reinforce the assumption that the victim had lost a lot of blood through a cut – the conclusion reached by Lord Hutton in Dr Kelly’s case.

The detective told me that this process did not need access to a main artery like the jugular, but could be achieved through, say, the ulnar artery.

This was the one slashed with a knife in Dr Kelly’s wrist. Was that incision an attempt to cover up the artery’s previous use?

Another ghastly suggestion came to me from someone who signed themselves only as ‘Nemesis’. Their letter alleged that he or she had been told by a ‘member of the non-English diplomatic corps’ that air had been introduced into Dr Kelly’s bloodstream through a needle in a vein.

Apparently, if present in sufficient quantities, air in the major organs will kill and leave no scar. ‘Nemesis’ was in no doubt that this was how Dr Kelly’s life had ended. “His heart and lungs were full of air,” the letter said.

We know that the pathologist did retain one of Dr Kelly’s lungs and some blood to test for substances such as chloroform but Assistant Chief Constable Michael Page, who gave evidence at the Hutton inquiry, revealed that the tests to the lung had not actually been carried out.

This was, he said, because no suspicious substances had shown up in the blood tests.

Whatever method might have been used to murder Dr Kelly, we have to wonder why those responsible did not kill him immediately. There would have been no insurmountable obstacles to doing so, after all.

Perhaps his kidnappers wanted an opportunity to take him into the woods at Harrowdown Hill under cover of darkness to minimise the chances of being spotted or disturbed.

It certainly would not have been difficult to have given him a shot to render him temporarily unconscious until his assailants forced him to walk to the spot where he would be killed and found the next day.

If they drove him there, the closest they could have got by road was about half a mile from where his body was found.

That walk is rather a public one, but there is another route and one seemingly not investigated by the police.

This path runs from a remote reach of the River Thames, about 500 yards away, up through a field and into the woods. With no houses or other dwellings nearby, anybody walking here is unlikely to be seen, particularly in the dead of night.

Intriguingly, this area was searched the following morning by Louise Holmes and Paul Chapman, the two volunteers who eventually found Dr Kelly’s body.

They told the Hutton inquiry that some time after beginning their search at 8am they came across a group of three or four people in a boat and had a brief conversation with them.

Who they were, and what they were doing on the river at that time of the morning, has never been established. They could, of course, have been holidaymakers. But was the truth more sinister?

EXTRACTED from The Strange Death Of David Kelly by Norman Baker, published by Methuen on November 12 at £9.99, copyright Norman Baker 2007. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0845 606 4206.

Global Research Articles by Norman Baker

see
Weapons Expert Dr David Kelly was Murdered by Norman Baker

Iraq whistleblower Dr Kelly was murdered to silence him, says MP

No Inquest into the Death of Dr. David Kelly by Dr. C. Stephen Frost and Dr. David Halpin and Dr. Chris Burns-Cox

Perfidious Albion and the lying American By John Helmer (David Kelly)

Dr David Kelly’s unnatural death: Murder of the Law by Dr. David Halpin

Dr David Kelly – Conspiracy (video)


www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Norman Baker, Daily Mail, 2007
The url address of this article is:
www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7155

Refugees and Puppets by Riverbend – Iraqi Girl Blog

Dandelion Salad

Riverbend – Iraqi Girl Blog
ICH
10/22/07 “Baghdad Burning


Syria is a beautiful country- at least I think it is. I say “I think” because while I perceive it to be beautiful, I sometimes wonder if I mistake safety, security and normalcy for ‘beauty’. In so many ways, Damascus is like Baghdad before the war- bustling streets, occasional traffic jams, markets seemingly always full of shoppers… And in so many ways it’s different. The buildings are higher, the streets are generally narrower and there’s a mountain, Qasiyoun, that looms in the distance.

The mountain distracts me, as it does many Iraqis- especially those from Baghdad. Northern Iraq is full of mountains, but the rest of Iraq is quite flat. At night, Qasiyoun blends into the black sky and the only indication of its presence is a multitude of little, glimmering spots of light- houses and restaurants built right up there on the mountain. Every time I take a picture, I try to work Qasiyoun into it- I try to position the person so that Qasiyoun is in the background.

The first weeks here were something of a cultural shock. It has taken me these last three months to work away certain habits I’d acquired in Iraq after the war. It’s funny how you learn to act a certain way and don’t even know you’re doing strange things- like avoiding people’s eyes in the street or crazily murmuring prayers to yourself when stuck in traffic. It took me at least three weeks to teach myself to walk properly again- with head lifted, not constantly looking behind me.

It is estimated that there are at least 1.5 million Iraqis in Syria today. I believe it. Walking down the streets of Damascus, you can hear the Iraqi accent everywhere. There are areas like Geramana and Qudsiya that are packed full of Iraqi refugees. Syrians are few and far between in these areas. Even the public schools in the areas are full of Iraqi children. A cousin of mine is now attending a school in Qudsiya and his class is composed of 26 Iraqi children, and 5 Syrian children. It’s beyond belief sometimes. Most of the families have nothing to live on beyond their savings which are quickly being depleted with rent and the costs of living.

Within a month of our being here, we began hearing talk about Syria requiring visas from Iraqis, like most other countries. Apparently, our esteemed puppets in power met with Syrian and Jordanian authorities and decided they wanted to take away the last two safe havens remaining for Iraqis- Damascus and Amman. The talk began in late August and was only talk until recently- early October. Iraqis entering Syria now need a visa from the Syrian consulate or embassy in the country they are currently in. In the case of Iraqis still in Iraq, it is said that an approval from the Ministry of Interior is also required (which kind of makes it difficult for people running away from militias OF the Ministry of Interior…). Today, there’s talk of a possible fifty dollar visa at the border.

Iraqis who entered Syria before the visa was implemented were getting a one month visitation visa at the border. As soon as that month was over, you could take your passport and visit the local immigration bureau. If you were lucky, they would give you an additional month or two. When talk about visas from the Syrian embassy began, they stopped giving an extension on the initial border visa. We, as a family, had a brilliant idea. Before the commotion of visas began, and before we started needing a renewal, we decided to go to one of the border crossings, cross into Iraq, and come back into Syria- everyone was doing it. It would buy us some time- at least 2 months.

We chose a hot day in early September and drove the six hours to Kameshli, a border town in northern Syria. My aunt and her son came with us- they also needed an extension on their visa. There is a border crossing in Kameshli called Yaarubiya. It’s one of the simpler crossings because the Iraqi and Syrian borders are only a matter of several meters. You walk out of Syrian territory and then walk into Iraqi territory- simple and safe.

When we got to the Yaarubiya border patrol, it hit us that thousands of Iraqis had had our brilliant idea simultaneously- the lines to the border patrol office were endless. Hundreds of Iraqis stood in a long line waiting to have their passports stamped with an exit visa. We joined the line of people and waited. And waited. And waited…

It took four hours to leave the Syrian border after which came the lines of the Iraqi border post. Those were even longer. We joined one of the lines of weary, impatient Iraqis. “It’s looking like a gasoline line…” My younger cousin joked. That was the beginning of another four hours of waiting under the sun, taking baby steps, moving forward ever so slowly. The line kept getting longer. At one point, we could see neither the beginning of the line, where passports were being stamped to enter Iraq, nor the end. Running up and down the line were little boys selling glasses of water, chewing gum and cigarettes. My aunt caught one of them by the arm as he zipped past us, “How many people are in front of us?” He whistled and took a few steps back to assess the situation, “A hundred! A thousand!”. He was almost gleeful as he ran off to make business.

I had such mixed feelings standing in that line. I was caught between a feeling of yearning, a certain homesickness that sometimes catches me at the oddest moments, and a heavy feeling of dread. What if they didn’t agree to let us out again? It wasn’t really possible, but what if it happened? What if this was the last time I’d see the Iraqi border? What if we were no longer allowed to enter Iraq for some reason? What if we were never allowed to leave?

We spent the four hours standing, crouching, sitting and leaning in the line. The sun beat down on everyone equally- Sunnis, Shia and Kurds alike. E. tried to convince the aunt to faint so it would speed the process up for the family, but she just gave us a withering look and stood straighter. People just stood there, chatting, cursing or silent. It was yet another gathering of Iraqis – the perfect opportunity to swap sad stories and ask about distant relations or acquaintances.

We met two families we knew while waiting for our turn. We greeted each other like long lost friends and exchanged phone numbers and addresses in Damascus, promising to visit. I noticed the 23-year-old son, K., from one of the families was missing. I beat down my curiosity and refused to ask where he was. The mother was looking older than I remembered and the father looked constantly lost in thought, or maybe it was grief. I didn’t want to know if K. was dead or alive. I’d just have to believe he was alive and thriving somewhere, not worrying about borders or visas. Ignorance really is bliss sometimes…

Back at the Syrian border, we waited in a large group, tired and hungry, having handed over our passports for a stamp. The Syrian immigration man sifting through dozens of passports called out names and looked at faces as he handed over the passports patiently, “Stand back please- stand back”. There was a general cry towards the back of the crowded hall where we were standing as someone collapsed- as they lifted him I recognized an old man who was there with his family being chaperoned by his sons, leaning on a walking stick.

By the time we had reentered the Syrian border and were headed back to the cab ready to take us into Kameshli, I had resigned myself to the fact that we were refugees. I read about refugees on the Internet daily… in the newspapers… hear about them on TV. I hear about the estimated 1.5 million plus Iraqi refugees in Syria and shake my head, never really considering myself or my family as one of them. After all, refugees are people who sleep in tents and have no potable water or plumbing, right? Refugees carry their belongings in bags instead of suitcases and they don’t have cell phones or Internet access, right? Grasping my passport in my hand like my life depended on it, with two extra months in Syria stamped inside, it hit me how wrong I was. We were all refugees. I was suddenly a number. No matter how wealthy or educated or comfortable, a refugee is a refugee. A refugee is someone who isn’t really welcome in any country- including their own… especially their own.

We live in an apartment building where two other Iraqis are renting. The people in the floor above us are a Christian family from northern Iraq who got chased out of their village by Peshmerga and the family on our floor is a Kurdish family who lost their home in Baghdad to militias and were waiting for immigration to Sweden or Switzerland or some such European refugee haven.

The first evening we arrived, exhausted, dragging suitcases behind us, morale a little bit bruised, the Kurdish family sent over their representative – a 9 year old boy missing two front teeth, holding a lopsided cake, “We’re Abu Mohammed’s house- across from you- mama says if you need anything, just ask- this is our number. Abu Dalia’s family live upstairs, this is their number. We’re all Iraqi too… Welcome to the building.”

I cried that night because for the first time in a long time, so far away from home, I felt the unity that had been stolen from us in 2003.

Please visit Baghdad Burning Blog http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Nuclear Madness – Interview with Dr. Helen Caldicott (must see video)

Dandelion Salad

talkingsticktv

run time: 52:28 min

Interview with Dr. Helen Caldicott, co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility and author of numerous books including her latest “War in Heaven: The Arms Race in Outer Space”. Continue reading

Scores killed in US Iraq raid (link to pics; over 18 only)

Dandelion Salad

http://www.uruknet.info
اوروكنت
Aljazeera.net
October 21, 2007

Women and children among victims of air strike targeting “criminals” in Sadr City.

A raid in Baghdad has killed 49 people, according to the US military.

The deaths took place in an early morning operation in Sadr City on Sunday, “targeting criminals believed to be responsible for the kidnapping of coalition soldiers in November 2006 and May 2007”, a US military statement said.

Lieutenant-General Justin Cole, a US military spokesman, acknowledged in an email that aircraft were used on Sunday but was not more specific.

Two police sources said the dead included women and children.

One of the sources said the raids came after a US vehicle was targeted by a roadside bomb.

‘Criminals’

James Bays, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Baghdad said that although the US claimed all the victims were “criminals”, some of those killed were clearly civilians.

A television cameraman has filmed bodies of dead children, he said.

Iraqi police and hospital officials said US helicopters and fighter jets bombed buildings during the 5am raid in the district.

Several houses and stores were damaged.

Clouds of black smoke rose from the area early on Sunday as sirens wailed, heavy gunfire echoed and US helicopters circled overhead, Reuters television footage showed.

The US military said “an estimated 49 criminals” were killed in three separate engagements during a raid targeting a suspected rogue Shia militia leader specialising in kidnapping operations for which he sought funding from Iran.

US troops returned fire after coming under sustained attack from automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades from nearby buildings as they began to raid a series of buildings in the district, according to a statement.

It said about 33 fighters were killed in the clash. Ground forces then called in air strikes, which killed some six fighters.

Photo Gallery

h/t: ICH

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Uncommon Grace: Biology and Economic Theory By Charles Sullivan

Dandelion Salad

By Charles Sullivan
10/22/07
ICH

My wife, Alice, and I hold a deed to twenty acres of land in Morgan County, West Virginia. To most people, there is nothing remarkable about this place. But to us, it is extraordinary. I have spent seventeen years exploring the botany of this land: photographing its wild flowers, learning the language of its avian citizens, and capturing its various moods on film and in pixels. Knowing it as I do, I could never think of this place as a resource. It is simply home: the source.

In a society that holds sacred the private ownership of property and economic self interest, it may seem strange that neither my wife nor I consider ourselves property owners. At best, we are squatters or temporary guardians of something that has inherent value; an evolving biological entity that exists far beyond the realm of economic self interest and monetary valuation systems.

Alice and I share this sacred space with numerous plants and animals—most of them wild, and some of them domesticated. Among the latter: five horses, three dogs, and numerous felines. We do not own these animals any more than they own us; they are not our pets. They are simply animal companions, members of the extended human family, and valued equally with human beings, mushrooms, and copperhead snakes.

Unlike my wife and me, none of these animals have to work for a living. They are not expected to perform tricks for us. They are simply free to be who they are. We do the best we can for them with our limited resources. What we get in return is priceless; something that defies quantification. Whatever it is, it is greater than the sum of its parts but as ethereal as the morning mist that rises from a brook. Yet, it is as real as the soil and sky.

It is impossible to commodify the sacred bonds that exist between the human animal, and the non-human animal—a bond that extents into the landscape that spawned them. To claim ownership of another living being, whether wild forest, or domesticated canine, is to break the sacred bonds and reduce them into commodities—mere objects for use. It is to make them our property and force them into slavery; objects for economic exploitation.

So it is with the land itself.

In an ownership society, the land is valued not as an evolved living biological entity with inherent value and rights, including the fulfillment of its own evolutionary destiny, but as a commodity—a natural resource.

In this unnatural schema, wild forests lose their structural and biological diversity to become pulp for paper mills, and are turned into toilet paper, or packaging for ipods. Diverse forests become tree farms and plantations, monocultures thirsting for toxic chemicals to keep them alive. They are no longer natural, no longer wholly real or authentic. This process of industrial forestry moves the land from the realm of the sacred into that of economic theory; and it is falsely called science. That which has inherent value is thus devolved into mere property, a commodity; divested of its sacredness, a severed part divorced from the whole.

Treated as private property, the wild earth, with its essential ecological processes, dies a death of a thousand cuts, as economic myth and Disneyesque plantations supplant the authentic natural landscape, and the artificial is freely substituted for the real.

Surrounded by the artificial, we live in a time when people can no longer tell the difference between the real and the synthetic; the natural and the unnatural. Sadly, they do not even know what has been lost or that it can never be replaced.

Thus we have a culture which holds that economic self interest is the highest expression of human freedom. It is a paradigm that asserts its superiority over all others, including the public welfare and the wellbeing of the earth. It is the foundation of Adam Smith’s capitalism, as espoused in The Wealth of Nations, and modified many times since.

But freedom that subjugates others is not freedom at all.

Private ownership is a paradigm that values the economic parts of nature—those that can accrue wealth to the land owner, while assigning no value to the parts that are economically unimportant, or the greater public good, including the world’s genetic libraries. Yet, in nature, it is often the non-economic parts that provide the essential ecological functions that make life itself possible. Not just human life—all life.

Here in Morgan County, wild forests provide shade on hot summer afternoons, and diverse habitat for multitudes of species, both plant and animal. Together, the interrelationship formed by these species constitute a dance of life that promotes the dynamic equilibrium of a complex ecosystem—the magnificent Central Appalachian Hardwood and Mixed Mesophytic Forest.

Aided by fungus and precipitation, insects residing in decaying trees move nutrients through the earth, building healthy soil. Forests purify the air and remove pollutants, while also trapping and holding greenhouse gases. Wild forests filter pollutants from streams and rivers, providing pure drinking water to foxes, beetles, and people. All of this, and much, much, more, is provided without cost to us; as a right of citizenship in this world.

Left alone, the wild earth—unlike human constructed systems, is a beautifully self-regulating arrangement in dynamic equilibrium; a system that runs on biological capital, rather than artificial economic arrangements. The management of such systems, which have evolved over billions of years, implies the superiority of man over nature, his dominion over the earth—a dangerous and foolish notion that requires unfathomable hubris, and equal parts stupidity.

Cultures that are based upon reductionism and monoculture fail to perceive the organic whole of life; the interconnectedness of all things, both living and non-living. Economic formulae, no matter how sophisticated and scientific they may appear, are a construct of the human mind—an artificial system of accounting. Nature does not recognize them. They have no validity in the real world. Yet we think they are of overriding importance, the basis of everything we do; man as center of the universe, as in the time of Ptolemy.

In truth, ecology and biology are the natural capital upon which nature works. They are the underpinning of all social and economic paradigms—bar none. Impair and denigrate them and everything in them, including us, is diminished. Damage them excessively, and everything falls, including our precious ownership society.

Ecological integrity is the foundation of planetary health. It is the organizing principle of life. Undermining that integrity for short term profits is to limit all future options in perpetuity, the ultimate incarnation of insensate greed and selfishness. It is the work of foolish and misguided men who are undoing the world; men who cannot conceive of anything larger than themselves, including the public welfare, or the planetary ecology; the world’s only authentic economy.

Ecological literacy, understanding how nature works, must necessarily supersede economic self interest in favor of the collective good, the organic whole. The world was not made to be exploited, to be divided into parcels and privatized. Contrary to popular belief, human beings are not masters of the earth. We are subject to the same immutable natural law as yeast cells. We were blessed with a few short years in paradise, and the gift of consciousness of our place in the cosmos.

If we are, indeed, rational beings, we have a moral obligation to defend our place from those who would defile and exploit it. Our allegiance is to the earth and to one another, not to monetary systems that exploit and cheapen life for profit.

Like all economic systems that are not based upon real science, or an appropriate land ethic, the concept of property rights and private ownership are misguided and ultimately self-destructive constructs. The public welfare and the ecological integrity of the earth exceed all economic self interests in importance. Economics are based upon self-serving, false premises, whereas ecology is real.

There are dire consequences to ignoring reality, for substituting the artificial for the natural. The earth will never conform to our views of her. The needs of the greater biological community outweigh the wants of the self-interested few, looking to make a fast buck.

It is a sad and foolish notion that nature must conform to man and his prideful economic constructs. The world operates on natural capital—biological processes from which humankind evolved. That understanding must be the guiding principle in all that we do. Unlike the mythos promoted by economics, ecological literacy encourages a healthy sense of belonging to something much larger than the sum of its parts, the greater biological community; it promotes a healthy sense of the sacred.

Conservationist David Brower once stated: “Economics is a form of brain damage.” I could not agree more. We need to develop a holistic world view in place of that which was born of hubris and economic self interest. That view will not be born of capitalism, or any repressive religious theology. It can only come from healthful interaction with the organic world, in the big outside.

Henry Thoreau astutely observed, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” Like the American Indian, Thoreau’s world view was not anthropocentric (man-centered), it was biocentric (earth-centered); holistic and whole. That is a world view we can live with.

The most precious things in life are those that cannot be commodified, and hence, owned. Like twenty acres in a place we call West Virginia—beauty, grace, elegance, and tranquility cannot be bought and sold, or traded on Wall Street. These qualities are a gift unto the world provided without cost. We should freely enjoy them in ways that are non-consumptive, and therefore, non-destructive. We should give thanks for the natural wealth the world possesses and leave it for others to enjoy, long after we have departed this life.

As Edward Abbey, an anarchist, once lamented, “The earth belongs to everyone, and to no one.” We are simply citizens of the greater biological community, distinguished only by our capacity for destruction and self deception.

Charles Sullivan is a nature photographer, free-lance writer, and community activist residing in the Ridge and Valley Province of geopolitical West Virginia. He welcomes your comments at csullivan@phreego.com.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Paulson’s $100 billion “Bankers Bankruptcy Fund” & the G-7 Fiasco By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
10/22/07 “ICH

Friday’s bloodbath on Wall Street proved that the troubles in the credit markets have not been relieved by the Fed’s rate cuts. The Dow Jones slipped 367 points on the 20th anniversary of Black Monday, the stock market’s biggest one-day loss in history. Since Friday, Asian markets have plunged; stocks are down sharply in Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and South Korea. The global sell-off is a reaction to ongoing problems in the subprime market and deeper-rooted systemic issues related to the US’s structured-debt model.

The sudden downturn in the stock market provided a fitting backdrop for Treasury Secretary Paulson’s appearance at the G-7 meetings in Washington DC. Paulson has largely shrugged off the decline in housing and the growing volatility in the equities markets. As the representative for the world’s biggest economy, Paulson instructed the other nations on how best to adjust their currencies and on the dangers of “sovereign wealth funds”. No one was listening. Foreign ministers and central bankers are less receptive to the scolding of US officials. America needs to put its own house in order before it gives advice to anyone else.

What everyone at the meetings really wanted to know was why the United States destabilized the global economic system by selling hundreds of billions of dollars of worthless mortgage-backed securities to banks and pension funds around the world? Aren’t there any regulators in the US anymore?

And how Paulson going to make amends to the institutions and investors who lost their shirts in this massive mortgage-scheme?

Unfortunately, the Treasury Secretary didn’t address any of these questions. He offered no recommendations for fixing the problems in the credit markets and he refused to explain what he would do to shore up the faltering dollar. Instead, he reiterated the same lame mantra that the US follows a “strong dollar policy”.

Baloney. The Federal Reserve has been trashing the greenback for the last 7 years without pause. Paulson needs to rethink his approach and start telling the truth. Markets thrive on credibility and transparency; that’s what strengthens investor confidence. If Paulson thinks that the people are dupes; he’s in for a shock.

Last month’s net foreign inflows show how quickly capital can evaporate when confidence is lost. Foreign investors pulled $163 billion out of US securities and Treasuries in August alone. Net capital inflows have turned negative and that money won’t be returning until the United States shows that it’s “got its act together”.

Are you listening, Henry?

The multi-trillion dollar subprime swindle was the greatest financial fraud in history. Investors are looking for accountability. They want to hear someone in the Bush administration and at the Central Bank stand up, take responsibility, and offer concrete regulatory changes to fix the system.

Are you listening, Henry?

No one is interested in another scam like the new $100 billion “Bankers Bankruptcy Fund”. All that does is provide the over-extended and under-capitalized investment banks another chance to dump their poisonous Mortgage-backed slop on the gullible public. Forget about it. That plan needs to be tossed in the circular receptacle. If Paulson really wants to know what people think about his new Mega-fund he should listen to Nick Parsons, the head of markets strategy at National Australia Bank. Parsons summed up the fund’s goals saying:

“By insulating the junk from the sellers of junk, the holders of junk should be spared the problems of junk. The one flaw in this cunning plan, however, would be if investors took fright at being reminded just how much junk is still in the system.”

Parsons is right. Junk bonds are still junk whether they’re logged on an SIV’s debit-sheet or wrapped in Treasury Dept red-ribbon. What difference does it make? It’s still garbage. Write down the losses and get on with it.

It’s worth noting that Paulson—who felt vindicated in reproaching China for currency manipulation; also blasted Iran saying,

“We discussed ways to deal with Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear capability and ballistic missiles, its vast financial support to lethal terrorist groups, and the deceptive financial tactics employed by Iran to evade sanctions and mask illicit transactions.”

Give it a rest, Hank.

Apart from the fact that the United Nations nuclear-watchdog agency (IAEA) has found “no evidence” that Iran is conducting a nuclear weapons program; it’s none of Paulson’s business anyway. He needs to devote more time to cleaning up his own mess and less time criticizing others for their fabricated offenses.

The rest of the world is already fuming at the US for creating the problems that threaten to send the global economy into a prolonged tailspin.

Developing countries that joined the G-7 meetings lambasted the US for generating “serious problems of financial fragility” which are endangering the “prosperity of the world economy”. (Bloomberg)

The G-24 is demanding “increased surveillance of advanced economies, putting as much focus in evaluating their vulnerabilities as it does in emerging-market economies.”

Indeed. And yet Paulson and his colleagues at the Fed continue to blame everyone else. No one in China or Iran cooked up this “structured finance” rip-off which sent millions of homeowners into foreclosure, shuttered 160 mortgage lenders, and undermined the global banking system. That was the work of the Wall Street con-artists and their accomplices at the Fed.

Consider this article in Sunday’s UK Telegraph:

“Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland have lined up emergency funds of up to $30 billion from the US Federal Reserve to bail out American clients caught up in the global credit crunch.

The Fed’s board of governors wrote to both banks 10 days ago, granting them access to funds for customers “in need of short-term liquidity”

The letter to RBS made particular reference to investors holding mortgage-backed securities — which have been at the centre of the sub-prime crisis. (“Barclay’s, RBS prepare emergency credit with Fed”, UK Telegraph)

Great. Another humongous bail out for the victims of America’s deregulated mortgage-laundering racket. Is that China’s fault?

Another article appeared in yesterday’s New York Times by economics reporter Gretchen Morgenson, “Get Ready for the Big Squeeze”:

“Anyone who thinks that we have hit bottom in the increasingly scary lending world is paying little mind to the remarkably low levels of reserves that the big banks have set aside for loan losses. Indeed, loss provisions as a percentage of total loans held for investment plummeted to a historic low in the second quarter of 2007…. Part of the problem for banks is a result of an almost two-decade drop in loan loss reserves….. Now that a credit bust looms, banks have far fewer reserves on their balance sheets than they might have had in previous cycles.”

Still want to talk about China and Iran’s problems?

The present gang of Wall Street warlords have transformed the world’s most transparent and resilient markets into an opaque galaxy of complex debt-instruments and shady “off-balance sheets” operations. It’s no better than a carnival shell-game. As the banks continue to get rocked from explosions in the housing industry; the unwinding derivatives and carry trades will precipitate a mass exodus from the equities markets. That rout will be matched by a corresponding downward slide in the real estate market which is expected to continue until 2010.

Crisis dynamics have returned to the credit markets. Surging oil and food prices are bearing down on maxed-out consumers and slowing retail spending. Discretionary income is vanishing from rising inflation and shrinking home equity. Wages have remained stagnant for over a decade while personal savings have dipped to minus digits. On top of it all, consumer debt is at record-highs and the danger of default has expanded beyond housing to every area of personal finance.

A report in Sunday’s Financial Times sheds light on this new and worrisome development:

“Poor quarterly results from banks across the US over the past two weeks suggest credit problems once confined to high-risk mortgage borrowers are spreading across the consumer landscape, posing new risks to the economy and weighing heavily on the markets.

US banks have raised reserves for loan losses by at least $6bn over the second quarter and by even larger amounts from last year, indicating financial executives believe consumers will be increasingly unable to make payments on a variety of loans.

Banks are adding to reserves not just for defaults on mortgages, but also on home equity loans, car loans and credit cards.

“What started out merely as a subprime problem has expanded more broadly in the mortgage space and problems are getting worse at a faster pace than many had expected,” said Michael Mayo, Deutsche Bank analyst.” (“US Loan Default problems Widen” Financial Times)

The aftershocks from Alan Greenspan’s “cheap credit” policies will be felt for decades. The American consumer is more over-leveraged and economically vulnerable than any time in history. Simply put; he owes money on everything—-cars, mortgages, electronics, student loans, and credit cards. The path to indentured serfdom is paved with the Fed’s low interest green paper.

Record US trade imbalances coupled with a steadily-declining dollar, is negatively impacting European industry as well as the Euro. Further weakening is likely to trigger a stampede away from dollar-backed assets and securities. The plan to strangle the dollar to reduce US balance of payments is pure lunacy—an idea as zany as invading Iraq. No country has ever devalued its way to prosperity. (Steven Roach) Destroying the dollar will destroy the country.

Global credit markets are now facing unprecedented disruptions due to the mortgage-derivatives fraud which originated in the United States before spreading across the world. $400 billion in asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) has failed to roll over, the mortgage securitization process has stalled, the colossal leveraged buyout deals (LBOs) are DOA, and millions of bankrupt homeowners are being driven from their houses. The big investment banks have been forced to take $280 billion of new debt on their balance sheets since the middle of August. This is limiting their ability to issue new loans and generate profits. The banking system has already smashed into the iceberg and the decks are quickly filling with water.

Interest rates cuts will do nothing to slow the inexorable deterioration in the housing or stock markets. Cheap credit will not dispose of the toxic debt clogging the system or slow the pace of defaults. Trillions of dollars in market capitalization will be lost.

The system is blinking red. These problems cannot be ignored or swept under the rug any longer.

Leadership is critical in times of economic crisis. This isn’t the time for prevarication, obfuscation or public relations gimmicks. We need leaders who will tell the truth, make remedial policy recommendations, and forestall the growing probability of social disorder.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

New World Order – Kyrgyzstan (link; drugs)

Dandelion Salad

July 2007
A vibrant Islamic movement in Kyrgyzstan is challenging the established political system. People are becoming increasingly disillusioned and searching for alternatives. In the market of Osh, Southern Kyrgyzstan, most women wear the hijab. The idea of an Islamic state is rapidly gaining currency here. “Islam offers guidance to the way people should live”, explains the local imam. “It answers every question in life”. It’s a sentiment that’s increasingly worrying the authorities. “Last year, we found out Hizb ut-Tahrir were involved in plans for terrorist attacks in Kyrgyzstan”, states police chief Shakir Zulimov. “This year, we’re expecting an escalation”. Islamic student Aman Saaliev believes one thing is certain: “There are major changes afoot in Central Asia”.

(Video has been disabled for embedding, click the link below to view the video.  Thanks, Lo)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTPcQd4ue2o

Return of the Vultures by Greg Palast (video)

Dandelion Salad

GregPalastOffice

The Continued story of the Vultures who prey on Africa’s Poor.

http://www.GregPalast.com

see

Randi Rhodes Hunts Bush’s Vultures with BBC’s Greg Palast (vids)

Greg Palast on the Battle to End Vulture Funds (link; transcript)

Vulture Funds – Greg Palast (vid)

“Vulture Fund” Company Seeks $40 M Payt from Zambia on $4 M Debt + Zambia loses ‘vulture fund’

Citing Democracy Now! Broadcast Conyers Confronts Bush & Demands Investigation of Vulture Funds

U.S. Vulture Fund Owner Wins Debt Payment from Zambia — But Faces Possible Indictment at Home

Greg Palast

Kucinich Campaign update 10-22-07 (video)

Happy, happy birthday, Elizabeth! ~ Lo

Dandelion Salad

Kucinich2008

Hosted by Anne Marie Howard
Produced & edited by Chad Ely for Kucinich for President 2008
Writer, Director: Dutch Merrick
Camera Operator, Sound Mixer: Jim Legoy

see

Dennis Kucinich for President – Contribute

Leave it to Dennis by 35 Percenters (video; Kucinich)

Colbert Report: Kucinich: By the Pocket’s Red Scare + Helpful or Harmful? By Manila Ryce (link)

United Auto Workers (UAW) Sellout at GM and Chrysler by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, October 22, 2007

The September and October United Auto Workers (UAW) GM and Chrysler agreements are just the latest examples of union leadership surrender and betrayal. It’s an ominous sign of labor’s plight and clear indication of what’s ahead – more for business, less for workers, and no relief in sight with union bosses out for themselves and more allied with business and imperial interests than their own rank and file.

American civilization and labor historian Paul Buhle sees organized labor today in a state of collapse, and labor author Robert Fitch says “American workers are like owners of a family car whose wheels fell off long ago. Each family member (must rely) on their own two feet; they scarcely remember what it was like being able to ride together.” Who can dispute it with union membership down from its post-war 1950s high of 34.7% to the lowest private sector level in over 100 years at 7.4% today. In addition, inflation-adjusted wages are stagnant or falling, benefits are being slashed, and Fitch says conditions in the garment and meatpacking industries are as bad today as the ones muckrakers like Upton Sinclair exposed a century ago in his book “The Jungle.”

He blames it on union corruption at the top in different forms – leaders on the take, siding with business, getting big salaries and fancy perks and more concerned with their own welfare than the interests of their members. Nothing on the horizon points to change with corrupted UAW leaders Exhibit A.

Back in June, the UAW reached an agreement with Delphi Corporation that signaled what would follow with the auto companies. Following months of negotiating, it allowed the company to impose pay cuts up to 50%, lay off thousands, and slash health and retirement benefits. It was a win for company and a crushing defeat for Delphi workers.

Then in July, UAW and the United Steelworkers reached an agreement with auto supplier Dana Corporation that allows the unions to take over managing worker long-term disability and retiree healthcare coverage. The deal is projected to save Dana over $100 million a year, eliminate $30 – $40 billion in long-term company liabilities, and it gives UAW leadership another chance for what it wanted for years – a VEBA (voluntary employee beneficiary association) agreement putting the union in the healthcare business for the big profit potential it represents. More on that below.

In the past, VEBAs proved costly to UAW workers. The union set one up with Detroit Diesel in 1993 that cost company retirees dearly when funds in it ran out in 2004. It happened again to Caterpillar retirees in 2005 who’ll see their out-of-pocket costs triple by 2010, and the sky’s the limit after that. As for Dana Corporation, it got more in the deal as well – the right to hire new workers at half the wages of current ones so older employees can be phased out and replaced with low-cost new ones.

The same UAW – company pattern is now in play at GM, Chrysler and Ford. GM workers struck September 24 and returned to work two days later after union negotiators agreed to huge concessions the company demanded and got without breaking a sweat. Workers accepted the proposal by a nearly two to one margin, but in doing it signed away their futures with a deal they’ll live to regret. They traded shaky job security today for big contractual givebacks later. The pact affects 73,000 hourly workers at GM’s 82 US facilities, and key to it is a VEBA agreement for the UAW henceforth to manage GM’s 400,000 retirees’ health benefits while letting the company off the hook for what it’s been providing since 1964. The GM VEBA amounts to a multi-billion dollar trust fund that will transform the union into a major health care provider, and allow it to reap huge profits by cutting its own members’ benefits.

For its part, GM is only obligated to contribute $35 billion of the $55 billion it owes retirees. But the deal is even sweeter than that. Health care costs are soaring, and the company’s have risen by nearly half since 2003. It’s clear what’s ahead. The VEBA employee experience at Detroit Diesel and Caterpillar is coming to GM. When funds in it run out, the UAW will cut benefits and hike premiums and co-pays so union profits aren’t affected. The agreement also lets GM divert pension fund money to the VEBA trust and allows for worker cost of living increases to go instead toward retiree health benefit expenses making the deal even worse.

Other terms agreed to in the contract include a two-tiered wage and benefit package. Under it, new skilled assembly-line workers will get $26 to $32 in hourly wages but less in benefits than current ones for a total compensation package of around $45 an hour compared to about $73 an hour for existing skilled workers. In addition, a new non-core worker group, comprising up to one-third of GM’s workforce, will get around $27 an hour in wages and benefits. Both core and non-core employees will henceforth receive less in active-worker-health-care benefits with GM saving billions from the arrangement.

The company told Wall Street investors October 15 its 2007 labor costs will drop from $12.6 billion last year to $10.1 billion in 2007 (45% below 2003 wages and benefits paid) with “significant” further declines from 2008 to 2011. Further, GM estimates it will reduce its long-term healthcare obligation to workers by $47 billion and expects over the next four years to retire up to 75% of its current high-paid work force (earning $78.21 in wages and benefits) and replace many of them with low-paid non-core, non-assembly line new hires (costing $25.65 in combined wages and benefits).

Employee buyouts, early retirement offers and other downsizing efforts are coming that will let the company eliminate expensive workers and replace them with cheaper new ones. The contract runs four years and includes three lump-sum bonuses but no wage increases so annual cost of living adjustments won in 1948 are ended that over time will cost workers much more.

It’s a dark new age for GM workers as well as for those at Chrysler and Ford. The days of Walter Reuther-type leadership are long gone. He led the UAW from 1946 until his death in 1970, grew the union to more than 1.5 million members, and over that time delivered for the rank and file like few other labor leaders ever did. He was a union reformer, shrewd bargainer, master strategist, champion of industrial democracy and worker rights and once said “If fighting for a more equal and equitable distribution of the wealth of this country is socialistic, I stand guilty of being a socialist.” In fact, he was pro-capitalist, opposed forming a labor party and allied the UAW to the Democrat party and its imperialist agenda.

Nonetheless, he won sizable wage increases and a historic tying of them to living costs and productivity gains. He also got his membership paid vacations, employer-funded pensions, medical insurance with defined benefits, improved safety and health measures, and supplemental unemployment benefits that guaranteed members up to 95% of their pay if they were laid off. That’s now lost today with UAW and other union bosses conspiring with business for their own self-interest at the expense of their members.

The UAW Chrysler betrayal was as cynical and self-serving as the GM deal. It was packaged around a staged six hour partial walkout of 37,000 of the company’s 49,000 work force that was more theater than strike action and another defeat for UAW members unless they reject the agreement as some locals are doing in voting so far. Some local union leaders oppose it as well as the terms agreed to are even more draconian than at GM:

— a new VEBA trust (only for current employees) with Chrysler contributing only $8.8 billion of its $18 billion long-term health care obligation to its 78,000 retirees; new hires will get no retirement health care benefits and will have to enroll in a new health care program that will increase deductibles, co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses; current retirees for the first time will have to pay out-of-pocket expenses; savings to the company will exceed $300 million a year;

— a two-tiered wage and benefit arrangement with new skilled hires getting as little as $14 an hour or half or less the current pay rate and well below the $19.62 average non-union wage in the manufacturing sector; the agreement lets the company expand the number of low-paid non-core workers as well as be able to designate “Non-Core Facilities” in which the entire workforce will get lower pay and benefits once current employees are phased out;

— new health care concessions similar to what GM and Ford got in 2005 that require retirees to pay part of their rising health care premiums; current worker pension funds will be shifted to the VEBA;

— the elimination of employer-paid pensions for new workers, replacing them with 401(k) plans in which the company will contribute one dollar to be invested in the stock market for every hour worked;

— freedom for Chrysler’s private equity firm owner, Cerberus Capital, to downsize and close as many of its plants as it wishes with early retirement offers and employee buyouts ahead so expensive current workers can be eliminated;

— workers’ wages will be frozen, and the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) benefit won in the two month 1970 GM strike is now lost;

— more flexibility for the company to outsource jobs to non-UAW workers at lower pay and benefits; these will include so-called “housekeeping functions” like janitorial and trash handling, grounds keeping, machine and booth cleaning and others;

— freedom for the company to expand the number of low-paid, low-benefit part-time workers as well as long-term temporary ones who can’t gain seniority;

— the company freed of any commitment to build vehicles at US assembly plants or guarantee the number of jobs at them plus other thus far unreported worker concessions.

The GM, Chrysler and upcoming Ford negotiations herald a new day for UAW workers in the wake of another crushing defeat affecting all working Americans. Gone are one million UAW jobs since 1978 (from 1.5 million to 520,000) along with hard-won gains that took decades to achieve. No longer do men like Walter Reuther represent workers. Today’s UAW leadership betrayed its members trust for its own self-interest, and there’s no relief in sight for change. Overall, organized labor is on its knees and Wall Street loves it. GM stock alone rose over 5% the day its deal was announced.

Looking ahead, there are no easy answers, just tough choices, and job one for working people is to join in solidarity for their own self-interest and survival. Past successes can be regained, but wishing won’t make it so. A new political movement is needed based on social equity and justice with a new breed of leaders to head it. The odds for success are long, but the alternative is intolerable. That should be incentive enough to go for it.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for research on Globalization based in Chicago. He and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on TheMicroEffect.com Mondays at noon US central time.

Stephen Lendman is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Stephen Lendman

 

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